WASHINGTON — A group of Illinois schools are part of a White House push on Thursday to spark low-income students to enroll in universities and colleges. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle will headline an event to highlight new programs to get kids into schools.
Among the Illinois schools: University of Chicago, Northwestern, Harper College in Palatine, Augustana College in Rock Island, Knox College and universities and community colleges schools overseen by the State of Illinois higher education boards.
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, on a conference call with reporters Wednesday said the U.S. is a nation that does not believe that the outcomes of your life” should be dictated by the “circumstances of your birth.”
Among those attending the White House event: Karen Anderson, Executive Director, Illinois Community College Board and U. of Chicago president Robert Zimmer. The U. of Chicago announced a $10 million gift to boost its efforts to reach-out to disadvantaged youths from University Trustee Steven Kersten and his wife, Priscilla Kersten.
“We know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps required to prepare for college,” Obama said at the event. “That’s why I’m glad the University of Chicago — my neighbor, and the place where Michelle and I both worked in the past — is announcing a $10 million college success initiative that will reach 10,000 high schools over the next five years.”
From the U. of Chicago: “The Kersten gift will help the Urban Education Institute become a national locus for knowledge, policy guidance and examples of education innovation for improving urban schooling.
More from U. of Chicago: “Steven Kersten, who graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1980, is president and CEO of WaterSaver Faucet Co., the largest worldwide manufacturer of laboratory faucets, valves and related products. He is also CEO of Guardian Equipment Inc., a manufacturer of industrial safety equipment, and Lakeview Property Investors, an industrial real estate investment firm. He is a board member and past president of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. He is active in efforts to promote manufacturing in Chicago, including serving as co-chair of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council and on various city task forces, and working with Austin Polytechnical Academy, a Chicago Public School focused on educating students from the Austin neighborhood for careers in manufacturing.
“Priscilla Kersten is president of the Square One Foundation, a private family foundation active in civic, educational and social justice issues. She serves on the governing board of UChicago Charter School and is on the steering committee of the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago, where she co-chairs the Women’s Board UEI Partner’s Committee. She is a trustee at the Latin School of Chicago, a board member of the Chicago Children’s Choir, a member of Impact 100 Chicago and chair of the board of High Jump—an organization serving academically talented and under-resourced middle school students.
Also: As part of the White House drive, the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation announced “three new grants, totaling $1.4 million, to support the creation and promotion of education technologies to help adult learners improve their reading, math and 21stcentury skills such as critical thinking.”